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Insider Guide: Sundance Mountain Resort

IG-Sundance-Cover At Sundance, plenty of groomers but the bumps and the steeps are never far away. (Sundance Mountain Resort/Facebook)

Robert Redford's Sundance Mountain Resort maybe just an hour south of its well-known neighbors in Utah's Wasatch Range -- on a clear day you can see the top of Snowbird -- but it feels like you have traveled decades away. Tucked up a steep, tight canyon east of Provo, the resort opened it in 1969 -- and it doesn't seem like much has changed since then.

Two-lane access, close-by parking lots, a modest ski shop/mercantile. Rentals, basic eats, and tickets with wickets. Put on your boots in Creekside Cafe dining area -- with a coffee and pastry -- and take a short walk to the Ray's Lift. All four fixed-grip chairs make for leisurely rides. So, soak in the views of 11,750-foot Mt. Timpanogos and surrounding top-of-the-range terrain of "Stewart Flats," where the first settlers ran cattle.

Travel

The resort sits about an hour's drive from Salt Lake Int'l Airport on I-15 south. Taxis, Uber and Lyft, and private town cars available. Also, light-rail TRAX trains run to Provo, and buses run from airport TRAX station and other Salt Lake stops to the mountain -- about 10 miles up Provo Canyon -- but on a limited schedule.

Stay

At the resort, there are some 95 luxury cottages and 10 mountain homes for rent. Each comes with free lift tickets. In Provo area, standard accommodations line the main drag south of canyon entrance, or along I-15.

Eats

Basic mountain eats at bottom Creekside and summit Bearclaw. The gourmet menu at Foundry Grill for all three meals. Jump up in price at The Tree Room with elk and lamb loins. Owl Bar pours apres-ski drinks and craft beers. Down below, Provo and environs have a wide variety.

Trails

The trail map configuration resembles little in the West. Because it can be confusing for first-time visitors, a troop of "mountain guides" hang out to help unlock the mountain's secrets. The layout is tall and narrow, only 450 acres.

A mountain-shed skirt spreads down the bottom half, full of wide greens and easy blues around two lifts -- great for beginners and novices and park-ers.

From there, the trails steepen seriously. Three ridges split up the upper half of the mountain. Steeper blues course down the high ground off Red's Lift, but you're never far from one of dozens of short black-diamond pitches that constantly bail off either side. They get your attention -- quickly.

Powderhounds should lap Flathead Lift on skier's right below Bishop's Bowl. Nothing but double-diamond steeps and a plethora of light Wasatch powder stashes.

A network of strategically cut cat tracks saves intermediates from having to side-slip a black, brings experts to the fall-off powder pitches that they seek -- and delivers all back to the base at the end of the day.

Other Fun

Number-one attraction is the third-longest zipline complex in North America. A short demo zip near the bottom gets you used to self-controlling brake. Then, you're ready for the scary stuff that strings off the 8,900-ft. summit with Bishop's Zip (2,341 feet), Flathead Zip (2,581) and Outlaw Zip (3,871). At their highest, riders fly 500 feet above the ground, and 2,100 ft. vertical drop is most in the U.S. One zip open for winter.

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